Driven: Aston Martin Vanquish

Aston Martin doesnโ€™t change things for the sake of it. The core principal of its VH methodology is to improve what it already has: thatโ€™s how models such as the V8 Vantage evolved from OK into very able indeed. Now, with the Vanquish, weโ€™ve another evolution, boasting โ€˜generation 4โ€™ VH platform, full carbon fibre bodywork and a 77 per cent new AM11 V12 engine. Itโ€™s not โ€˜more newโ€™ because, yes, Aston said there was no need - โ€œWhy change the bore centres for the sake of it?โ€

Carbon skin means sharper lines
Carbon skin means sharper lines
This should be the most well developed modern Aston ever, then. It certainly looks it. Images donโ€™t do justice to the near-iridescence of the surfaces โ€“ designer Marek Reichman says the depth of the rear haunches and sharp creases throughout wouldnโ€™t be possible in aluminium and describes the impression as the difference between rolling mountain hillsides and sheer alpine ranges. Unlike many recent โ€˜newโ€™ Astons, it does evolve the DB9-derived theme weโ€™re familiar with and youโ€™ll tell it apart from other Astons in an instant.

Same old same old?
Thereโ€™s too much thatโ€™s familiar inside, mind โ€“ dials and 1970s fly-off handbrake spring to mind โ€“ but at least the footwells are bigger and the haptic feedback centre console fancier - it clicks like an iPhone when you touch it. Youโ€™ll still curse the key too (press in and holdโ€ฆ) but, boy, is there a reward when it catches.

Engine is 'mostly new' and mainly brill
Engine is 'mostly new' and mainly brill
Now producing 573hp, the 6.0-litre V12 boasts an exhaust system developed from the One-77 that sounds immense. It blares powerfully even at idle โ€“ itโ€™s not dependent on accelerating gases to create its harmony โ€“ and is every bit as rich as youโ€™d hope. Turn it up further by jabbing the glowing red โ€˜Sโ€™ sport button on the steering wheel.

The engine is nine per cent more powerful, nine per cent more economical and, significantly, now has dual variable valve timing so thereโ€™s more torque lower down in the rev range, compensating for the holes in the gearboxโ€™s ratios. Itโ€™s still not a slugger but it now has more of the response youโ€™d expect of a 6.0-litre motor at cruising revs and now gets into its stride at 3,000rpm rather than 4,500rpm. The howl at redline revs is brilliant.

Off the line
At 4.1 seconds, itโ€™s 0.2secs faster to 62mph albeit slower overall, presumably due to the downforce-inducing aeroduct rear. Thereโ€™s a new launch control to help make this repeatable, albeit a pretty soft and undramatic one.

It does look different ... but any better?
It does look different ... but any better?
The six-speed ZF gearbox is perhaps at fault here. Itโ€™s neither as snappy as a good DCT nor as expansive as the latest eight-speed unit. This is the Vanquishโ€™s weakest area.

Three-stage adaptive damping (controlled by another steering wheel button) and 25 per cent greater torsional rigidity have appreciably improved the DBSโ€™s ride quality. The chassis is now more supple and itโ€™s tuned to use a wide range of wheel travel where necessary, yet is damped well enough to never seem loose.

Handling is also sharper though โ€“ an extra stage of adaptivity means the carโ€™s breadth is wider and Astonโ€™s added more tautly-controlled focus in the sportier reaches. Wider tyres mean traction is superb and it can be chucked about like a much smaller car with real confidence: this is a very easy and natural car to drive.

Test route showed up some chassis jitters
Test route showed up some chassis jitters
Getting the jitters
Just one proviso โ€“ the Cambridgeshire test route created a very sharp and jittery Vanquish in places. The roads were ย disgracefully bad, yes, but whether Astonโ€™s gone too far here must wait until we get it on familiar roads.

The steering is less chatty than before. Perhaps inevitable: the classic 911-style on-centre squirm of the DBS is a bit old-school now, and the Vanquish trades this for more positive bite to micro-inputs. Itโ€™s still a fine system, but in making it โ€˜betterโ€™, itโ€™s become a bit less charismatic.

Other areas still feel like a racecar though, from the standard carbon ceramic brakes to the feeling of mass centralised even more within the chassis. It is - the engine is 19mm lower and the hollow cast aluminium front chassis is 13 per cent lighter than the DBS. It feels more of a specialist car than a 911 or a Conti GT, just one thatโ€™s now better to look at, live with and to drive. Although, at ยฃ190K, priced accordingly tooโ€ฆ

Familiar but a bit better - spot the theme?
Familiar but a bit better - spot the theme?
The philosophy of VH means the Vanquish doesnโ€™t feel a radical diversion. Rightly or wrongly, we shouldnโ€™t expect otherwise. Rather, itโ€™s a better version of what went before. Only now, at last, it also looks like it, tooโ€ฆ





5,935cc, V12
Transmission: 6-speed ZF automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp):ย 573@6,750rpm
Torque (lb ft):ย 457@5,500rpm
0-62mph:ย 4.1 sec
Top speed:ย 183mph
Weight:ย 1,739kg
MPG: 19.6
CO2:ย 335g/km
Price:ย ยฃ191,080

ย  ย 
ย  ย 

P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (186) Join the discussion on the forum

  • loveice 14 Nov 2012

    Don't really like like the rear end. It need at least 650bhp to compete with the others if not 700.

  • E38Ross 14 Nov 2012

    Absolutely love it. Steep price tag, mind!

  • sgq89 14 Nov 2012

    It certainly doesnt look better. There is a man down my road who works for Aston Martin and he actually has a dark blue one of these frequently on his drive (much to my suprise, its been on his drive for months, he also had one covered in a disguising tape, but it is 100% the new vanquish) and I can tell you now that its actually shocking how plastic and cheap it looks up close. The previous one looks like an expensive, solid piece of kit. Honestly chaps, up close in the flesh, this actually looks very poor and flimsy. Its a wonder they can get away with selling it at the price they will charge. Poor product. Go for the SLS or the Ferrari California/F12b

    Also, 0-60 in 4.1 seconds? Are we still in 1996? Not exactly slow but for your flagship car costing £190k...not quick enough.

    Edited by sgq89 on Wednesday 14th November 11:11

  • bakerstreet 14 Nov 2012

    They are slowly creeping their way to 600bhp. I suspect there will be a Vanquish S that will hit the 600bhp mark.

    I like the outside. The inside has also had a welcome change, but the centre vents appear to have been taken from a some ancient mid 90s car frown Steering wheel just looks like a tarted up one from other Astons.

  • Rawwr 14 Nov 2012

    loveice said:
    It need at least 650bhp to compete with the others if not 700.

View all comments in the forums Make a comment